The "official" word is out: Google has announced that it will stop selling its Google Glass smartglasses and that Google X, the company's research group, will stop developing it.
The New York Times has declared that Google failed. CNET asks whether, by removing it for sale, the company hasn't admitted that people don't want it. BGR enjoys making fun of the project, while the Daily Show mocks the whole thing:
But there are many ways you can profit from failure. Here are 5 reasons why Google made a smart move, even if some are having a field day with the comic opportunities.
Innovation requires failure
It would be great to think that all innovation, particularly the groundbreaking type, would lead to immediate commercial success. But it doesn't happen. It may be that the technology isn't ready to support what you want to do. Or it might be that society won't yet accept it. Google took a big leap with the smartglasses concept. It was an interesting development of head-mounted displays for computers. Even if, at $1,500, most consumers wouldn't buy it, the concept was worth pursuing, particularly if a variation becomes viable at some point in the future.
There are other potential uses
The tablet computer market didn't begin with Apple's iPad. For years, companies had made ruggedized systems for industrial and corporate use. FedEx and UPS delivery people have used handheld computers to track stops and gain acceptance signatures for years. There may be profitable applications for such a system, and Google is well ahead of competitors in technology and name recognition.
Glass provided great PR
Some may mock, but over the last couple of years, Google raked in so much so-called earned media that the invoice to cover an equivalent amount of ads would have been staggering in the cost it represented. Once again, the company associated its name with cutting-edge technology and leadership.
The IP value remains
Google lawyers presumably filed plenty of patents to cover its developments. As we've seen recently in the high tech space, having fundamental patents can be a great protective and offensive measure. Granted patents have a lifespan of 20 years. In a big dispute, they can become important competitive tools.
Glass set the stage for new developments
Eyewear is far from out at Google X. As the company recently blogged, it is applying technology to eyewear in a new way: a smart contact lens that could help people with diabetes monitor their glucose levels. Chances are good that some of what Google learned about miniaturizing electronics in eyewear found its way into this project.
If Google Glass was failure, then there are many companies that would do well to learn to fail in the same way. And, let's remember, Google Glass will become a new division at the company. That doesn't guarantee the simplest form of success, but it does raise the question of whether doubters are laughing a little too early.